About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation

About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation

History | Values | Board of Directors | Advisory Council
Staff and Support | Founding Members | Biographical Sketches

About Us

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is a national community benefit 501(c)(3) organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (EIN 43-2093206). Our mission is to “raise awareness and support programs that give ‘ordinary’ people the power to save a life.” We work to raise awareness about prevention and treatment of sudden cardiac arrest, including post-resuscitation care. 

What Sets Us Apart

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation has:

  • A clear vision that survival from sudden cardiac arrest can and must become the norm, rather than the exception
  • A conviction that sudden cardiac arrest can often be prevented
  • Strong leadership by board members and advisory council members who are experts in the field
  • Dedicated staff and volunteers who have been working together since the organization’s inception in 2006
  • An organizational structure and effective strategies that minimize overhead costs
  • A large and committed membership that is growing steadily.

Interview with Norman Abramson, MD, Immediate Past Chairman

SCA Is A Treatable Condition

What We Do

We are a mission-driven organization, dedicated exclusively to raising awareness and saving lives threatened by sudden cardiac arrest. Descriptions of our key initiatives follow.

Website

Our website, www.sca-aware.org, is a comprehensive information clearinghouse on sudden cardiac arrest. The site enjoys steadily growing traffic, with a 50% increase in unique visitors during the past year alone. Visitors come from throughout the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, India, Germany and about 200 other countries.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Network™

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Network is the nation’s first online community for people personally affected by sudden cardiac arrest, family members, and other community advocates that allows members to create Facebook-like profile pages and write blogs, forum posts, and personal reflections. Members may find their peers by searching multiple data fields such as state, zip code, and areas of interest (e.g., hypothermia, promotion of CPR-AED programs). “The Network” is designed to serve as a catalyst for grassroots collaboration, outreach and advocacy. Membership is free.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor Network™

The SCA Survivor Network™, a subset of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Network, is the nation’s first online community for sudden cardiac arrest survivors. “The Survivor Network” allows survivors to find their peers, share their experiences, and help one another in the healing process. Survivor stories are posted here. The Survivor Network also provides opportunities to “pay it forward” and help save other lives. Survivors may opt to participate in research studies and efforts to increase awareness, such as media interviews, speaking opportunities and community outreach. For example, we have worked with Beaumont Hospital, Rutgers University, Yale University, and the University of Pittsburgh to facilitate research studies among interested survivors.

Targeted Educational Campaigns

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is spearheading several educational campaigns, including:

You Can Save a Life at School , is an award-winning publication targeted to secondary school stakeholders, which has been distributed by sponsors and nonprofit partners nationwide. The publication has been used by advocates to promote greater access to AEDs in schools in state legislatures. The campaign features a related website and ongoing social media outreach.

You Can Save a Life on Campus , is a newly launched publication targeted to college and university stakeholders, being distributed by sponsors and nonprofit partners nationwide. It features a related website and ongoing social media outreach.

Award Programs

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation sponsors several award programs. The “People Saving People™” award is designed to raise awareness about the importance of bystander intervention in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. The Foundation’s video contests are designed to stimulate creative ways to raise awareness, particularly in school settings.

Media Relations

Since raising awareness is fundamental to our mission, we place strong emphasis on both traditional and social media relations. We regularly distribute national news releases, which garner tens of thousands of online and print placements. We work with reporters, providing information and expert commentary and facilitating survivor interviews.

Our letters to the editor and blogs have been published in The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Newsweek, and our articles have been published in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. Our National Spokesperson, Susan Koeppen, has represented the Foundation in multiple media TV and radio interviews.

We distribute e-newsletters regularly to thousands of targeted individuals, including survivors and others affected by sudden cardiac arrest and other community health advocates. We also emphasize active social media engagement through FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and YouTube.

National, Regional and Local Outreach

We conduct outreach by speaking and exhibiting at multiple national conferences and meetings each year. In addition, working in collaboration with the Citizen CPR Foundation, we have conducted workshops for survivors of sudden cardiac arrest and their families. We also conduct and participate in regional and local community events.

Collaboration and Advocacy

We collaborate with other like-minded organizations on initiatives aimed at raising awareness and saving lives. In addition, we support federal and state legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts.

For more information, see attached report.

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History

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40 in the United States and other countries. In the U.S. alone, approximately 424,000 people suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year in the U.S. and most victims die (89%). SCA also affects many young people. Approximately 10 percent of SCA events occur among people less than 40 years of age.

The death toll from SCA is equivalent to the number of people who would die if three fully-loaded Boeing 777 aircraft crashed every single day. Imagine the public outrage if this were to happen. Yet the public does not seem to be aware—let alone protest—this travesty. Too often, common misperceptions prevail. The media often reports about people who die from “massive heart attacks,” reinforcing the mistaken notion that nothing could have been done. In reality, these sudden deaths usually represent SCA, a condition that can be treated successfully through early intervention with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillators.

Unlike many other medical conditions, survival from SCA depends on immediate intervention by bystanders, typically laypersons with no medical training who lack an understanding about their vital role in determining whether SCA victims live or die. While only 11 percent of SCA victims survive in the U.S., when as many as 38 percent or more could survive if they were treated in a timely, effective manner. If the survival rate could increase to 20 percent, 85,000 lives could be saved each year.

While many laypersons are exposed to CPR training in school or at work, despite decades of large-scale initiatives, the number of laypersons who have learned and retained these skills and would use them in real world emergencies remains disappointingly low. Similarly, the public’s understanding of the lifesaving potential of defibrillators, particularly when used by laypersons, is severely lacking. Yet to reduce death and disability from SCA, the general public must learn that its engagement in the lifesaving process is vital.

There is an unmet need for an easily accessible, objective, comprehensive information clearinghouse on the prevention of death and disability due to SCA. While various organizations address specific conditions that cause SCA or specific populations affected by SCA and some organizations include SCA as one of many topics they address, and while there are a number of helpful industry resources, there is no one central repository of current, reliable information on SCA that addresses the condition of SCA before, during and after its occurrence. Furthermore, there is no central virtual meeting place for “any time, any place” exchange of information, ideas, experiences and guidance related to SCA.

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation has been established to meet this need. The Foundation is national in focus and global in reach.

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Values

  • Collaboration: We value collaboration, cooperation and collegiality as a way to strengthen our mission and the missions of all organizations with which it interacts. We believe that “none of us is as smart as all of us” (Warren Bennis, 1996). We believe in the importance of initiating and sustaining collaborative relationships.
  • Service: We value high-quality, user-centered service, anticipating and meeting the information and communication needs of users.
  • Academic Rigor: We value medical, public health, public policy and education research and the importance of providing current, reliable, valid, science-based practical information.
  • Respect: We respect the individual skills, abilities and diversity of SCA Foundation users, staff, directors, advisors and mentors. We value excellence, accountability, and creativity.
  • Integrity: We value integrity, neutrality and objectivity.
  • Support: We value the importance of giving support to those personally affected by SCA by providing information resources and guidance from professional caregivers and by facilitating peer-to-peer communications.
  • Systems Integration: We value the importance of an integrated systems approach to addressing SCA, recognizing that the prevention of death and disability from SCA depends on the active involvement of laypersons and emergency personnel within integrated EMS systems.
  • Celebration: We value the importance of celebrating successes both in individual patients and in developing solutions to identified issues.

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National Spokesperson

Susan KoeppenSusan Koeppen, KDKA TV News Anchor and Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor

A nationally known, award-winning journalist, Susan Koeppen co-anchors the weeknight editions of KDKA-TV News at 6 and 11, a CBS station in Pittsburgh, PA. In addition Susan is KDKA’s consumer reporter.

Before joining the KDKA news team, Susan was the consumer correspondent for CBS News’ “The Early Show.” Previously, Susan was a consumer reporter and weekend morning anchor for WTAE-TV Pittsburgh (2000-04). Before that, she was an anchor/reporter at WHEC-TV Rochester, N.Y.; an anchor/reporter at WKTV-TV Utica, N.Y.; and a reporter at WNYT-TV Albany.

The Emmy Award-winning reporter is also the recipient of three Gracie Allen Awards. Susan has been honored by the Associated Press for general excellence in reporting and best local documentary. Susan received a Golden Quill award for her story on Wi-Fi dangers. In 2006, she received the Beacon Award from the Home Safety Council for her work on consumer safety issues. Susan was the first reporter to break the news of the largest crib recall in U.S. history. She has traveled the globe for her stories, including reporting live from the Vatican. She received the United Nations Association of Rochester International Media Award for her coverage of war-torn Bosnia.

In 2011, Susan suffered cardiac arrest while training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. She received CPR from two medical students who were driving by and firefighters shocked her heart with an AED. Doctors believe severe mitral regurgitation caused by her mitral valve prolapse lead to her sudden cardiac death. She had open-heart surgery in March 2012 to repair her mitral valve and has fully recovered.

Susan is now a national spokesperson for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. She works closely with the American Heart Association. She has shared her story on several national talk shows such as “The Talk”, “The Doctors”, and “Doctor Radio.” Susan also works as an emcee and speaker at various local and national events.

Susan was born in Albany, N.Y. She was graduated in 1994 from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in broadcast journalism. She enjoys travel and has been to every continent except Antarctica. Susan is married to plastic surgeon, Dr. Jim O’Toole. They have three children.

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Board of Directors

  • Norman S. Abramson, MD, FACEP, FCCM, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, Immediate Past Chairman
  • David H. Belkin, Esq., David Belkin Consulting, LLC, Bethesda, MD
  • Bobby V. Khan, MD, Ph.D., Executive Director, Atlanta Vascular Research Foundation, Director, Carmel Biosciences, Professor of Medicine, University of Central Florida School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, Chairman
  • Kathryn Koenig, MBA, Vice-President, Strategic Planning, University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago, IL
  • Srinivas Murali, MD, FACC, FACM, Professor of Medicine and Director, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine, Medical Director, the Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute, Allegheny General Hospital, West Penn Allegheny Health System, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Mary M. Newman, MS, President and Co-Founder, SCA Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA (ex officio)
  • Carissa Caramanis O'Brien, Director, WCG, a W2O Company, Boston, MA
  • James L. Richardson, MBA, CCEMTP, Director, Aspen Ambulance District, Aspen, CO
  • Gary A. Runco, PE, PLS, Pittsburgh, PA
  • George Yamalis, MBA, Independent Consultant, Pittsburgh, PA

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Advisory Council

  • Stuart Berger, MD, Medical Director, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
  • Allan Braslow, PhD, President, Braslow & Associates, Greenwich, CT; Senior Consulting Associate, Goodman Research Group, Cambridge, MA
  • James Cockrell, MD, FACC, Director, Cardiac Electrophysiology, Washington Adventist Hospital, Takoma, MD
  • Dana Peres Edelson, MD, MS, Assistant Professor, Director of Clinical Research, Emergency Resuscitation Center, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • Ray Fowler, MD, University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, TX
  • Robert Gillio, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Innerlink, Inc., Lancaster, PA
  • Keith Griffiths, President, The Red Flash Group, Encinitas, CA
  • Henry Jampel, MD, SCA Survivor and Professor of Opthamology, Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
  • Michael Kumer, Boards Made to Order, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Richard Lazar, Esq., Readiness Systems, LLC, Portland, OR
  • Keith Lurie, MD, Co-Director, Cardiac Arrthymia Center, Central Minnesota Heart Center, St. Cloud, MN
  • Robert A. Niskanen, Managing Director, Resurgent Biomedical Consulting LLC, Seattle, WA 
  • Joseph P. Ornato, MD, Professor and Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University/ Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, VA
  • Edward M. Racht, MD, Medical Director, American Medical Response, Denver, CO
  • Edmund Ricci, PhD, MLitt, Director, Institute for Evaluation Science in Community Health, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Andrew Roszak, Esq.,JD, MPA, EMT-P, National Association of County and City Health Officials, Washington, DC
  • Michael R. Sayre, MD, Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • Samuel F. Sears, PhD, Professor and Director of Health Psychology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
  • Laurence S. Sperling, MD, FACC, FACP, FAHA, Associate Professor of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA
  • Robert Trenkamp, Jr., EMT-P, President and Co-Founder, Saving Lives in Chatham County, Savannah, GA
  • Roger D. White, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology, Mayo Medical School, Rochester, MN

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Staff and Support

  • President, Mary M. Newman, MS, mary [dot] newman [at] sca-aware [dot] org
  • Administrative Assistant: Barb Cooper
  • Outreach Coordinator: Jennifer Bassett 
  • Contributing Author: A.J. Caliendo
  • Webmaster: Michael Kuhleman, M2Technology
  • Legal Adviser: James R. Olson, Esq.
  • Accounting Firm: McCall, Scanlon & Tice, LLC

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Biographical Sketches

Robert G. Gillio, MD
Founder/ Chairman/ Chief Medical Officer
Force for Health Foundation, Innerlink
Lancaster, PA

Robert G. Gillio, MD, graduated from Lawrence University magna cum laude in 1976 and received his medical degree from Rush Medical College in 1980. He attended the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, where he pursued a residency in internal medicine and a research fellowship in thoracic diseases. He moved to Lancaster in 1988, where he joined Pulmonary Associates and was awarded Doctor of the Year by the Nursing Practice Board. Dr. Gillio left a successful medical practice in the summer of 2000 to devote his attention to the founding of InnerLink. In 2003, he was appointed an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at The Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Gillio has coupled his skills as a physician with his quest to make the practice of medicine safer and better understood through technology. A leader in telemedicine, virtual reality surgical simulation, Internet-based education, and ase-based learning, Dr. Gillio has founded four companies and sold two of them to Fortune 500 companies. Dr. Gillio holds 13 patents on various medical and educational products, six of which are owned by InnerLink, Inc.

Dr. Gillio is the author of Lessons Learned from Ground Zero, an account of his experiences while providing health screenings to New York Police Department (NYPD) officers involved at Ground Zero. He has since participated in federal disaster simulations and debriefed the Pentagon facility staff regarding the events of 9/11. He is founder of the Lancaster Pennsylvania Citizen Corps Council and is a computer software and book reviewer for the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Gillio's current focus to utilize the web to create tools for education and care with online programs and personal health records, through his company, InnerLink, to try to make a systemic change in the preparedness of a nation for massive large scale catastrophes and individual emergencies, such as sudden cardiac arrest.

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Keith Griffiths
President
The RedFlash Group
Encinitas, CA

Keith Griffiths has 30 years of publishing, marketing and trade show experience, including the start-up of Jems Communications, where as president he helped lead the creation of multiple trade magazines, research journals, trade shows, newsletters, books, videos, and on-line resources for the emergency care market. With his partner, the late Jim Page, Keith arranged the sale of Jems in 1993 to the Times Mirror Corporation and continued to head the Jems Division for Times Mirror for the next four years.

He left to form his own consulting organization in 1997 and continues to serve as a contributing editor for the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. He serves on the College of Fellows for the National Academy of Emergency Dispatch, which has been a consulting client for the past nine years, and is on the Board of Directors for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. He serves on the advisory boards of several organizations, including Take Heart America, EPIC Medics, the National Institute for Urban Search and Rescue, and the James O. Page Foundation.

Keith has a BA degree in journalism from San Diego State University where he later studied marketing, advertising, accounting and management as a graduate student in its MBA program. He has been a frequent speaker at the Folio Magazine Publishing Seminars and is on the Board of Directors for the Western Publications Association, the leading organization for magazine publishers in the western states.

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Henry Jampel, MD
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD


Henry Jampel, M.D. is the Odd Fellows Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

On May 16th, 2000, at the age of 44, and 7 months after completion of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii, Henry had a cardiac arrest in the shower after a swim workout. After 27 minutes of CPR by 4 fellow swimmers who were also physicians, he was successfully defibrillated, a striking example of the exception that proves the rule.

Henry relishes in his full recovery from his cardiac arrest, and like most survivors, is passionate about reducing avoidable deaths from sudden cardiac arrest. He testified this winter (2006) in the Maryland Senate for a bill mandating AEDs in all high schools in the state, and was thrilled that the bill passed.

Henry joined an extremely small group of people in 2004, those survivors of sudden cardiac arrest who have subsequently completed an Ironman triathlon. He lives with his wife, Risa, a dermatologist, and has three children, Catherine 21, Joseph 18, and Sarah 14, who are happy that their dad is still around.

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Bobby V. Khan, MD, PhD, Chairman
Director, Atlanta Vascular Research Foundation
Professor of Medicine, University of Central Florida School of Medicine
Atlanta, GA

 

Dr. Bobby Khan is a cardiologist and clinical investigator who serves as Director of the Atlanta Vascular Research Foundation, Executive Director of Carmel Biosciences, and Professor of Medicine at the University of Central Florida School of Medicine. He has published more than 75 peer-reviewed articles in the areas of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders in highly regarded scientific journals. In 2009, he was awarded a Fulbright Research Chair to work at the University of Prince Edward Island with Dr. Tarek Saleh, Chairman of Biomedical Sciences, and his research group. Dr. Khan’s Fulbright scholarship has allowed him to come to Canada on several occasions over the past five years. His work has been extremely productive and has resulted in the production of multiple research manuscripts and the submission of patents on developed intellectual property.

Dr. Khan has served as the principal investigator for several clinical trials. He has obtained research support from the National Institutes of Health and private companies. He has served on several planning committees for the scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. He is the holder of several patents in the area of Treatment for Atherosclerosis and Other Cardiovascular and Inflammatory Diseases.

Dr. Khan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Vanderbilt University, and a Doctor of Medicine (with honors) and a Doctor of Philosophy in pharmacology from the University of Tennessee. His postgraduate education included a residency in internal medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a cardiology fellowship at Emory University. He has received multiple awards including “Outstanding Predoctoral Fellowship Award” and Outstanding Research Award.”

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Katie Koenig, MBAKathryn Koenig, MBA
Vice President, Strategic Planning
University of Chicago Medicine
Chicago, IL

 

Kathryn (Katie) Koenig is the Vice President of Strategic Planning for the University of Chicago Medicine. In this role, Katie manages strategic planning processes, business analytics and the implementation of strategic initiatives. 

Katie came to The University of Chicago Medicine from UNC Health Care, where she directed the strategic planning team. Prior to UNC Health Care, Katie worked at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global strategy consulting firm. Based in BCG’s Atlanta office, Katie worked with senior executives across many industries to address complex strategic and operational challenges. Prior to BCG, Katie held positions with The Vanguard Group, a mutual fund company. 

Katie holds an MBA from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University where she graduated with honors. She earned her Bachelors of Arts in English with a Music Theory minor from The University of Pennsylvania, graduating cum laude.

Raising awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and helping to improve the survival rate for victims became a passion for Katie after she lost her father to sudden cardiac arrest on September 15, 2012.

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Michael Kumer
Boards Made to Order
Pittsburgh, PA


Michael Kumer is Principal, Boards Made to Order, and served as Interim Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations. Previously he served as Executive Director, Duquesne University's Nonprofit Leadership Institute, and Associate Dean of the University's School of Leadership and Professional Advancement.

Since assuming the directorship of the NLI, Michael has produced and facilitated countless programs pursuant to nonprofit excellence. These programs have enjoyed a cumulative enrollment of thousands of board members, staff and volunteers representing hundreds of nonprofit agencies.

Michael accumulated a vast wealth of experience as a board/ advisory board member and officer of several regional and national nonprofit organizations, including Bands of America, Youth Education in the Arts and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He is a past Board Chair of the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.

Prior to assuming his current position, Michael served as Dean of Duquesne University's Mary Pappert School of Music.

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Keith Lurie, MD
Central Minnesota Heart Center
St. Cloud, MN


Dr. Keith Lurie has an extensive background as a clinician, inventor and consultant to the medical industry. Dr. Lurie currently practices at the Central Minnesota Heart Center in St. Cloud , MN , specializing in electrophysiology. He has been a faculty member at the University of Minnesota since 1981 and is currently Professor of Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine, Co-Director of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Center , and a Member of the Bioengineering Institute and post-graduate Biomedical Engineering faculty. Dr. Lurie is the founder and Chief Medical Officer of Advanced Circulatory Systems, Inc., a company committed to improving the outcomes of cardiac resuscitation, circulatory shock and head trauma through the commercialization of circulatory enhancement technologies.

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Srinivas Murali, MD, FACC, FACM
Director, Allegheny General Hospital Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Medical Director, Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute
Pittsburgh, PA

Srinivas Murali, MD, is Director of the Allegheny General Hospital Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and Medical Director of the hospital’s Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute. He joined the faculty in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in 1987. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1993 and to Professor of Medicine in 2002. He became the Medical Director of the cardiac transplantation program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1993. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at the Jewish Hospital and Medical Center, New York, NY in 1983. Dr. Murali was awarded the Diplomate in Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1983.

Dr. Murali received fellowship training in cardiovascular disease at the Jewish Hospital in New York between 1983 and 1985. Subsequent to this, he moved to the University of Pittsburgh for specialty fellowship training in heart failure and cardiac transplantation. He was awarded the Diplomate in Cardiovascular Disease by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1987. Dr. Murali was awarded the Fellowship in the American College of Physicians in 1987, Fellowship in the American College of Cardiology in 1989, and Membership in the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation in 1989. Since 2002, he has been honored as one of the 'Best Doctors in America' by the Pittsburgh Magazine every year.

During the past 20 years, Dr. Murali has authored or co-authored more than 100 publications in the field of heart failure and cardiac transplantation. He has given more than 100 presentations in national and international scientific meetings, and he serves on several committees in the American College of Cardiology, International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation, Pulmonary Hypertension Association and the Heart Failure Society of America.

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Mary M. Newman, MS
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation President
Pittsburgh, PA

 

Mary M. Newman, MS, is president and co-founder of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation. She served from February 2000 through June 2005 as co-founder and executive director of the National Center for Early Defibrillation (NCED) at the University of Pittsburgh and as faculty in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Emergency Medicine. While at NCED, she led the development of a website attracting nearly one million unique users from scores of countries, the development and widespread dissemination of multiple award-winning print and electronic educational materials, the creation of the SCA Survivor Network, and the creation of the national SCA Coalition (previously called the SCA Alliance).

Previously she served as research coordinator for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest research at Krannert Institute of Cardiology, Indiana University School of Medicine, in Indianapolis, IN, where she studied the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) by law enforcement agencies and by response teams at the worksite. She also served as a site coordinator of the NIH Public Access Defibrillation study. In addition, she has conducted survey research related to public and professional awareness about SCA and implementation of early defibrillation programs, and participated as a member of Allan Braslow's video self-instruction (VSI) research team.

Ms. Newman is author/ co-author of numerous articles published in peer review journals, trade journals, newsletters, and the popular press. She is author/ co-author of Challenging Sudden Death: A Community Guide to Help Save Lives, Protest the Silence: Take Action Against Sudden Death!, and I Survived Sudden Cardiac Arrest! (a motivational DVD). She has been a contributing editor of the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) since 1980. She created the Chain of Survival metaphor, which has been widely adopted by numerous organizations worldwide.

Newman served as a member of the planning committee for Pittsburghers United for Life Saving Emergencies (PULSE). She was a co-founder of the Citizen CPR Foundation (CCPRF) and served on its Board of Directors and Executive Committee and on the planning committees for its Emergency Cardiac Care Update for nearly 18 years (1987-2004). She was founding editor of the CCPRF/ American Heart Association (AHA) publication, Currents in Emergency Cardiac Care (1989-1994). She has served on multiple expert panels and committees of government and national nonprofit organizations, including participation in the DOT National Standard Curriculum on Bystander Care, participation in CPR curriculum development for the American Red Cross, and service on the American Heart Association AED Task Force. She was a volunteer emergency medical technician with the Chester, N.J., Fire Department and a volunteer CPR instructor and AHA New Jersey Affiliate Faculty member.

Newman graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati and completed EMT training at Northeastern University. She pursued a Masters in Public Health with a concentration in epidemiology at Indiana University and received her Master of Science in Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

She was recognized as a Health Care Hero Award Finalist by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2004 and by the national Who's Who in Emergency Medical Services in 2001.

Woman Promotes Awareness, Action for Cardiac Arrest (PDF download)

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Robert A. Niskanen
Managing Director
Resurgent Biomedical Consulting LLC
Seattle, WA


Robert A. Niskanen is the Managing Director of Resurgent Biomedical Consulting, LLC, in Seattle. He works with several companies on induced hypothermia, mechanical CPR devices, and airway control as methods to improve resuscitation. In addition, he is executive director of Take Heart America, a demonstration project aimed to improve survival from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in three U.S. cities.

Previously, he served as a Senior Principal Scientist at Medtronic Emergency Response Systems (ERS) in Redmond, Washington. He was part of the research efforts at Physio-Control Corporation/ Medtronic ERS, for more than 25 years, serving previously as the Director of Research and then VP of Clinical Research. He graduated from the University of Washington with a MSEE in 1976.

Bob has been active in biomedical engineering for more than 30 years. His primary professional interests center on resuscitation, emergency medicine and cardiovascular disease. He has been involved in both technical and clinical research in CPR, defibrillation, ventilation, acute myocardial infarction triage and medical data management. He delights in working with engineers, scientists, physicians, researchers, business professionals and others to solve problems in emergency medicine.

He is active with a number of professional organizations, including the National Association of EMS Physicians, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Heart Association, European Resuscitation Council, and Citizen CPR Foundation. He was active with the National Center for Early Defibrillation during its existence at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bob is convinced that dramatic improvements can and will be made in the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest through collaboration. He believes an increased emphasis should be place on the role and influence of SCA survivors in fighting this national medical tragedy.

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Carissa Caramanis O'Brien , EMT-P
Director, WCG, a W20 Company
Boston, MA

 

With more than 15 years in strategic communications, Carissa has spent most of her career helping healthcare organizations better tell their story, finding the right channels to reach their key audiences, and forging connections that create communities of brand advocates. Having worked in print and online media, as well as both television and radio--all in Boston--Carissa learned the ins and outs of content creation and consumption in a market that demands the best. After leading global marketing communications for two multinational healthcare companies, Carissa started and ran her own business, specializing in content and social strategy consulting for healthcare and EMS. In 2011, Carissa took on the role of the first Social Media Community and Content Director at Aetna, a 160-year-old Fortune 100 consumer health brand. There she was responsible for driving collaboration across business functions to develop the brand’s social media strategies and best practices, while serving as an advocate and counsel for the enterprise-wide adoption of social media. Carissa is especially proud of her ongoing role as a patient and provider advocate. A cause that's near and dear to her heart, she has also worked to raise awareness for sudden cardiac arrest through her efforts with the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation since its inception. Carissa joined W2O Group in 2014 to share her expertise with healthcare clients looking to leverage digital and social media to reach and influence their communities of interest. Carissa is based in Boston, where she's a lifelong New England sports fan and the proud mother of one spunky 8-year-old girl.

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Joseph P. Ornato, MD, FACC, FACEP
Professor and Chairman
Department of Emergency Medicine
Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia
Richmond, VA

Dr. Joseph Ornato is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia. He is also Medical Director of the Richmond Ambulance Authority, the Prehospital Paramedic System serving the City of Richmond, Virginia.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, he graduated from Boston University Medical School magna cum laude and completed his training in Internal Medicine at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital and in Cardiology at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center. He is triple board certified (Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Emergency Medicine).

Dr. Ornato is an active researcher in the field of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Dr. Ornato is American Editor of the journal Resuscitation and is on the editorial board of the American Journal of Emergency Medicine. He is past Chairman of the American Heart Association's National Emergency Cardiac Care Committee and the AHA Advanced Cardiac Life Support Subcommittee. Dr. Ornato is a member of the American College of Cardiology's Emergency Cardiac Care Committee. He is the American Heart Association's national representative to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's National Heart Attack Alert Program's Coordinating Committee and he is Chairman of its Science Base Subcommittee. Dr. Ornato is also a Special Consultant to the Circulatory System Devices Panel of the Food and Drug Administration.

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Edward M. Racht, MD
Chief Medical Officer

American Medical Response
Greenwood Village, CO

Edward M. Racht, M.D. serves as Chief Medical Officer of American Medical Response. He has more than 20 years of experience in emergency medical services and health care systems. Previously, Dr. Racht served as the Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs for Piedmont Newnan Hospital in metro Atlanta and as Medical Director for the Austin/Travis County EMS System in Texas, which was nationally recognized for its collaborative approach to resolving challenging health care integration issues.

Dr. Racht received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Emory University in Atlanta and completed his residency at the Medical College of Virginia. He served as an assistant professor and Associate Chief of Emergency Medical Services at the Medical College of Virginia and Medical Director of the Richmond Ambulance Authority, Richmond Fire Department and multiple volunteer EMS and Fire agencies in Richmond. Racht served three successive terms on the Virginia State Governor’s EMS Advisory Board and Chaired the State of Texas Governor’s EMS and Trauma Advisory Council for 10 years.

A frequent national speaker at EMS, and health care conferences, Dr. Racht is well known for his expertise in “operationalizing” medical care.

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Edmund M. Ricci, PhD, MLitt
Professor of Sociology in Public Health
Director, Institute for Evaluation Science in Community Health
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
Pittsburgh, PA

Edmund Ricci, PhD, MLitt is Director of the Institute for Evaluation Science in Community Health at the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh, PA. His primary technical areas are evaluation and survey research methods. Most recently he has focused on minority health disparities, long-term care services and institutions, emergency and disaster medicine and substance abuse intervention programs. He has designed, directed or participated in more that 250 evaluation studies, dealing with a wide range of health and human service programs and organizations. As Professor of Sociology in Public Health, he teaches several doctoral level courses on evaluation science.

Dr. Ricci has served as a member of the National Academy of Sciences/ National Research Council, Committee on EMS, and Chair of the Health Services Research Training Study Section of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). He currently serves as a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Health and Social Policy. He is a member of the Behavioral Sciences Council, Association of Schools of Public Health and the Scientific Advisory Committee for the International Resuscitation Research Center. He has been a visiting faculty member at the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Lisbon, Portugal, and the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, and serves as a member of the Board of Examiners, Sir Venkateswara University, Andhra Pradesh, India.

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James L. Richardson, MBA, CCEMT-P

Jim is Director of the Aspen Ambulance District and has been a Paramedic since 1984, Critical Care Paramedic since 1992, and received his Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration from the University of Colorado in 2006. He is also active at a local, regional and national level as President of the Pitkin County Emergency Medical and Trauma Advisory Committee; President of the Central Mountains Regional EMS and Trauma Advisory Council; member of the State Emergency Medical and Trauma Advisory Council  and member of the state Emergency Medical Practice Council. He has also been involved as a conference committee member for the state EMS conference and with the National Association of EMTs, American Ambulance Association, American Heart Association, and National Association of EMS Physicians on a national level. He also founded and chairs the Save a Life Pitkin County, and his community's ROSC (return of spontaneous circulation) rate from pre-hospital cardiac arrest stands currently at 50 percent. Jim also serves on the boards of the Medic One Foundation in Seattle, Denver Kids, Inc., in Denver, and the Hillsdale Fund and Richardson Corporation in North Carolina.

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Andrew R. Roszak, JD, MPA, EMT-P, National Association of County and City Health Officials, Washington, DC

Andrew Roszak, JD, MPS, EMT-P, is Director of Pandemic and Catastrophic Preparedness, National Association of County and City Health Officials. His background includes service as a firefighter/paramedic for eight years in the Chicago land area.  During this time, Andrew also served as a CPR/AED/First Aid instructor at two community colleges. In these capacities, Andrew has been very instrumental in the design and implementation of Early Access AED Programs.

Andrew received an Associates degree in Paramedic Supervision from Kankakee Community College, a Bachelors degree in Fire Science Management from the Chicago Fire Academy - Southern Illinois University, a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a Juris Doctorate Degree from Southern Illinois University - School of Law.

Andrew has had numerous articles published and has given presentations nationally regarding the legal implications of AED ownership and use.

After leaving the fire service, Andrew worked for the Deputy Director of Health Protection for the Illinois Department of Public Health for two years. Andrew also served as a Health Policy Fellow in the United States Senate and as a Senior Advisor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

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Gary Runco, PE, PLS
District Structure and Bridge Engineer at Virginia Department of Transportation
Greater Washington, D. C. 

Gary Runco is a District Structure and Bridge Engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation. He has 35 plus years of experience with an expertise in bridge inspection and analysis. He previously taught as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and taught courses for the Federal Highway Administration in 26 states and Puerto Rico. Gary earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.

While in Pittsburgh, Gary was active in the Pittsburgh community and with non-profit professional societies. He is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh (Class XI) and has served on professional society boards such as the Pittsburgh Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (where he is a Past President), the Association of Bridge Construction and Design (Past President) and the International Bridge Conference (Past General Chairman). He is currently active with the Marcellus Shale Coalition serving on the general committee, road use committee and safety committee. His years of service on non-profit boards and connections within the Pittsburgh community should prove to be valuable resources in his new role.

Gary and his wife have four children.

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Michael R. Sayre, MD
Professor
University of Washington, Seattle, WA


Michael R. Sayre, MD, is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Xavier University in Cincinnati and graduated in 1980 with a degree in Natural Sciences. He then attended the University of Cincinnati and received his Doctor of Medicine in 1984. Dr. Sayre completed a residency in Emergency Medicine at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh in 1987. He remained on the attending staff at Allegheny General until 1990 when he returned to Cincinnati.

While on the faculty of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Sayre focused his efforts on EMS. He served as the Medical Director for the EMS program of the Cincinnati Fire Division from 1992 to 2000. In 2000, Dr. Sayre relocated to the University of Chicago to join the staff of the Emergency Resuscitation Research Center where he served as the Director of Clinical Research for the ERRC.

In 2003, Dr. Sayre moved to The Ohio State University and has focused his research on clinical trials involving the management of SCA. He is active with EMS research and serves as the Principal Investigator for the Ohio site in the ASPIRE clinical trial of the AutoPulse CPR assist device. He is currently the Vice Chairman of the American Heart Association Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee.

He served as Chairman of the Founding Board of Directors of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

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Sam Sears, PhD
Professor and Director of Health Psychology
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC

Dr. Sears is Professor and Director of Health Psychology at East Carolina University.  He holds joint appointments in Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and the Department of Psychology.  He is a nationally recognized expert in the psychological care and quality of life outcomes of implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) patients and has published over 75 articles in the medicine literature on the psychological aspects of cardiology.  His co-authored book with Dr. Wayne Sotile, You Can Make a Difference:  Brief Psychosocial Interventions for ICD Patients and Families, has been distributed to over 4, 000 health care providers worldwide.  Dr. Sears is the principal investigator on funded grants related to psychosocial treatments for ICD patients.   Dr. Sears was honored by his peers by being awarded the “Early Career Contributions to Psychology Award” by the Florida Psychological Association in 1998.  He received five Teacher of the Year awards for both Research and Classroom teaching from the students of his department. Dr. Sears is married to Staci Evans, his wife of 14 years, and they have two sons, Jackson and Brandon, and live in Greenville, NC.

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Laurence S. Sperling, MD, FACC, FAHA, FACP
Founder and Director of Preventive Cardiology at the Emory Clinic
Co-Director of the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program at Emory
Atlanta, GA

Laurence S. Sperling, M.D., FACC, FAHA, FACP is the Founder and Director of Preventive Cardiology at the Emory Clinic and Co-Director of the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program at Emory. He is currently an Associate Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at the Emory University School of Medicine. He was awarded The American College of Cardiology Harry B. Graf Career Development Award for Heart Disease Prevention and The American Heart Association Council on Clinical Cardiology Scholarship for Physical Activity and Public Health in 2001.

Dr. Sperling is originally from New York. He received his undergraduate degree from Emory College where he was accepted into Emory University School of Medicine’s Early Acceptance Program as a college sophomore. He graduated with his M.D. in 1989, and subsequently completed 8 additional years of training at Emory including a residency in internal medicine, chief resident year at Emory University Hospital, an NIH-supported research fellowship in molecular and vascular medicine, and a clinical fellowship in cardiovascular diseases.

Dr. Sperling serves as medical director for a number of unique programs at Emory including The HeartWise Risk Reduction Program, InterVent Atlanta, Staying Aloft, Emory’s LDL apheresis program, and has served as special consultant to The Centers for Disease Control. He has been voted one of America’s Top Doctors and appeared often on local and national TV, newspaper, radio, and magazines. He has received awards for excellence in both teaching and mentorship. He is an investigator in a number of important clinical trials including JUPITER, COURAGE, and BARI-2D and has authored over 70 manuscripts, abstracts, and book chapters.

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Robert H. Trenkamp, Jr
President and Co-founder of Saving Lives in Chatham County (“SLICC”)
Chatham County, GA


Robert H. Trenkamp, Jr. is president and co-founder of Saving Lives in Chatham County (“SLICC”), a 501(c)(3) public charity founded to reduce the needless death and disability that occurs when someone suffers a cardiac arrest or a stroke and nobody nearby knows what to do. SLICC, with content guided by a six-physician Medical Advisory Board, has:

  • Taken its test zip code from approximately six percent of the population being CPR trained to more than 36 percent trained
  • Developed a Neighborhood CPR Training program through which local organizations such as houses of worship, can launch their own programs using materials that SLICC furnishes without charge
  • Launched a CPR in the Schools product that helps school systems provide CPR training in their 7th through 12th grade curricula.

School faculty members facilitate class sessions using SLICC’s 35 minute DVD. The program is provided to schools without charge. This program has been adopted by 36 schools and is growing in popularity.

Robert earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University and his MBA from Case-Western Reserve University. He began his career as an electrical engineer, soon moving into management, eventually having P&L management responsibility for a $300 million group of four high-tech companies within a Fortune 500 corporation. In 1981 Robert founded Lloyd Harbor Resources, a consultancy that specialized in reversing the trajectory of troubled high tech companies, both large and small.

Following his retirement in 2001, he earned his EMT and Paramedic credentials in both New York and Georgia. He successfully completed the Critical Care Emergency Medical Transport-Paramedic course at the Medical College of Georgia. He then began working the night shift twice a week at Savannah’s Level I Trauma Center and filling in on ambulances with Southside Fire Department. It was these work experiences that prompted the formation of SLICC.

Robert and his wife have two children and five grandsons.

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Roger D. White, MD, FACC
Professor of Anesthesiology
Mayo Medical School
Rochester, MN

Roger D. White, MD, FACC, is professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Medical School and consultant in anesthesiology (cardiovascular) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is a member of the AHA BLS Subcommittee, the National Association of EMS Physicians, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He is also on the Board of Directors of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. He is co-medical director of Rochester's Gold Cross Ambulance Service and medical director of the City of Rochester Police/Fire Department Early Defibrillation Program.

Previous activities related to defibrillation include chairperson of the US Food and Drug Administration's Defibrillator Working Group and membership on the AHA Task Force on Automatic External Defibrillation, Subcommittee on AED Safety and Efficacy.

On-going clinical research projects include assessment of patient outcomes following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest caused by ventricular fibrillation and evaluation of the performance of biphasic waveforms in AEDs used by paramedics, police and firefighters. His bibliography includes 134 publications, the majority pertaining to emergency cardiac care.

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The mission of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation is to prevent death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest. The vision of the SCA Foundation is to increase awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and influence attitudinal and behavioral changes that will reduce mortality and morbidity from SCA.

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